Game of Thrones (HBO – Sunday, 9:00 p.m.)

Game of Thrones is an American medieval fantasy television series created for HBO by David Benioff and Dan Weiss. The series is based on author George R. R. Martin’s best-selling A Song of Ice and Fire series of seven fantasy novels; HBO’s overall series’ title is derived from the first novel.  The premium cable television series closely follows the multiple story lines of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and author Martin has stated that the show’s pilot script was very faithful to his work.  Set in the seven Kingdoms of Westeros, where “summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime,” Game of Thrones chronicles the violent dynastic struggles among the kingdom’s seven noble families for control of the Iron Throne. – Wikipedia

Seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros. Political and sexual intrigue abound. The primary families are the Stark, Lannister, and Baratheon families. Robert Baratheon, King of Westeros, asks his old friend Eddard Stark to serve as his chief advisor. Eddard, suspecting that his predecessor had been murdered, accepts so that he can investigate further. It turns out more than one family is plotting to take the throne. The Queen’s family, the Lannisters, may be hatching a plot to take control. Across the sea, the last surviving members of the previously deposed ruling family, the Targaryens, are also plotting a return to power. The conflict between these families and others, including the Greyjoys, the Tullys, the Arryns, and the Tyrells, leads to war. Meanwhile, in the north, an ancient evil awakens. Amidst war and the political confusion, a brotherhood of misfits, The Night’s Watch, is all that stands between the realms of men and the horrors beyond. – iMDB

8 out of 10

First of all, we apologize for the double description but you’d be amazed at how difficult it is to actually find a decent show description at the usual suspects like Metacritic… or HBO’s homepage for the show.  We suspect the reason for this is that no one but the most devoted fanboy knows enough to be able to sum up coherently what the show is about. On our end, we’re in the same boat.  After watching the first episode, we can say that we reasonably understand what’s going on, but we would have no idea how to explain it. There’s a lot going on in this show with the different subplots and characters and it really plays out an awful lot like a soap opera (not a complaint, just an observation), and its serial nature and what looks like will be a weekly cliffhanger will have us coming back week after week, even though this genre has never really been our cup of tea.  Don’t get us wrong, we like this stuff but we’ve always been more interested in traditional science fiction (particularly of the space based variety) than we ever have been of medieval fantasy.

That being said, Game of Thrones is the most amazingly produced series we’ve ever seen (so far… Terra Nova may be even better… if it ever airs).  With a reported $5 to $10 million spent on the pilot and an estimated budget for the first season between $50 and $60 million, it’s easy to understand why.  The show feels much more like a big-budget summer blockbuster film than it does a TV series and as you watch it, you really don’t want to get up to even use the bathroom because the absolute aesthetic beauty of the photography is just spell-binding.  The cinematography, lighting, filters used on the lenses, and even the CGI is absolutely perfect.  The Northern Ireland and Malta filming locations are absolutely stunning and authentic as are the costumes.  Have we mentioned the music?  Well, the score, which is composed by Ramin Djawadi, is modern and absolutely beautiful.  It reminds us of the work of Sean Callery and Bear McCreary.

As far as the plot is concerned, as noted it is quite compelling but, we have to say that so far, the characters leave a lot to be desired in the likability/relatability department.  Most of them, even the heroes, are pretty nasty human beings who are pretty self-centered with ZERO regard for human life and yes, we understand that the story is being told from a medieval perspective, however, it is a story for a contemporary audience (Hell, the novels were written in 1996) and the general amorality of the characters is a bit off-putting and uncomfortable.  The male characters also display very misogynistic tendencies and they are quite vulgar in their misogyny as well and it really does make us a tad uncomfortable especially when watching it with Mrs. Tastic:

“I would let his whole tribe f**k you – all 40,000 men, and their horses, too, if that’s what it took.” – Viserys Targaryen… to his sister, Daenerys

Yikes!  Yeah, thanks for that visual.  Noooo… that wasn’t awkward at all. We suspect that the characters will become more sympathetic as the series progresses simply because we will become more attached to the storyline, but of course that will take time and as an audience, we’ll need to suspend our modern preconceptions of morality and decency for this to happen (and we’re pretty sure that despite the number of times they dropped it, the F-bomb didn’t exist during medieval times).  Seriously, the characters are like a bunch of hedonistic Klingons and this dovetails into the only real issue we have with the show.

As we noted in our Being Human review, HBO has a tendency to overdo the gratuitous sex, graphic violence, nudity and profanity and it’s not necessary.  It often becomes a distraction and usually it’s used for shock-value exclusively when the well has run dry in the writing department.  After watching the Game of Thrones pilot, we are starting to think that they are just getting so used to using that particular crutch that they can’t help themselves anymore. There were three completely unnecessary nude scenes in the pilot, a sex scene that could have just as easily been implied, ditto on the fellatio scene with the dwarf, the aforementioned ridiculous and historically out of context use of the F-bomb, two graphic beheadings and an orgy/slash gang rape scene (at a wedding, no less) that was topped off by a disembowelment.  Now, THAT’S our type of party.

The premium cable television series closely follows the multiple story lines of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and author Martin has stated that the show’s pilot script was very faithful to his work.

As much as we appreciate adapted works remaining true the source material, and we’re assuming that this over-the-top content is in the novels as well, we’re kind of wishing that it wasn’t as true to the original and that the producers would tone it down just a tad.  Now, we aren’t offended by any of those scenes, but as noted it just becomes distracting and it doesn’t seem really that necessary to advance the plot of what is a very good show that stands on its own merits without the need for gratuitous gimmickry.

Again, this was a bit of a minor issue and without a question, this is one of the best shows on TV and thanks to the fanboys, 48 hours after the pilot was aired on Sunday, the series was renewed for a second season.  It also didn’t hurt that last weekend was HBO’s Free Preview Weekend and we’re curious if it wasn’t so much the ratings that got the show renewed, but the massive increase of subscribers to HBO post-premiere that did the trick.  Boy, are we ever curious as to those Monday new subscription numbers.

As an aside, though, the fanboy factor in the success of this series cannot be overstated and inevitably will stir up the decade-old discussion of the viability of genre and Sci-Fi on premium cable.  Until now, there haven’t been any successful examples to use as a point of reference.  Who knows?  Maybe Game of Thrones has opened the door for the possibility of the next Star Trek or Stargate series to air on premium cable (don’t forget, Stargate: SG-1 was on Showtime for five seasons before it was on SciFi) or even perhaps the rebirth of great shows that left us too early such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles or even Firefly.  *Sigh* Yes, we know; now our true fanboy colors are showing and we’re losing ourselves in fantasy.

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About The Anti-Nerdist

Originally from Rochester, New York and has lived in Las Vegas, Nevada since 2003. Aside from being a huge fan of movies and television, he's a huge fan of Sci-Fi and in particular, Star Trek.
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2 Responses to Game of Thrones (HBO – Sunday, 9:00 p.m.)

  1. Pingback: 'Game of Thrones' (HBO – Sunday, 9:00 p.m.) | TV-Tastic | Fantasy Film / Fantasy Film News

  2. Pingback: REVIEW: Boss (Starz – Friday, 10:00 p.m.) | TV-Tastic

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